Thai, Malaysian PMs confer on violence in Thailand’s southern border provinces

April 12, 2009 7:54 am 

PATTAYA, April 11 — Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak early Saturday discussed bilateral cooperation as well as a joint agreement between the two neighboring countries to cooperate in finding a way to end more than five years of deadly violence in southern Thailand.

The talks were held on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit with their six Asia-Pacific partners at a luxury hotel in the Thai resort of Pattaya.

Congratulating Mr. Najib for his recent appointment as Malaysia’s prime minister, Mr. Abhisit reportedly told the new premier that the overall situation in Thailand’s border provinces had improved as the number of violent incidents had decreased due in part to cooperation by the local population.

He said the Thai government would resolve the problem through peaceful means and development measures, and that a special committee would be appointed soon to oversee the government’s policy.

More than 3,500 people have been killed since separatist unrest erupted in January 2004 in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces — Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, and Yala,

Praising close relations and cooperation, including trade and investment, Mr. Najib told Mr. Abhisit that his country is willing to promote cooperation between the two countries.

He also hailed the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), aimed at boosting the regional economy, which had received positive cooperation from every country involved in the scheme.

The IMT-GT encompasses Indonesia’s provinces in Sumatra, five southernmost Thai provinces and Malaysia’s Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.

Mr. Najib also said he would send back 131 Thais who had illegally entered Malaysia, referring to a exodus of local villagers from Narathiwat four years ago. (PNA/TNA)

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